While mobile devices have become immensely popular during the last decade or so, there is still a place for computers, be they laptop or desktop.
The online world is arguably more perilous for computer users than it is for mobile users, as the bad actors of the world have been targeting computer users seemingly since the first IBM PC came off the assembly line decades ago. (I actually ran into a virus that mischievously formatted a floppy disk on my old Atari 800XL way back in the mid-80’s.)
When you’re online today, there are bad actors, various government agencies, advertisers, search engines and even your own Internet Service Provider (ISP) who’d like to track your every move online. Meanwhile, ISPs and government agencies are also looking to control what you can access on the net. And don’t get me started about geo-blocked streaming content!
Luckily, there is a tool that you can use on your computer that keeps your online activities incognito and your real IP address private. This also opens up access to content that you may normally be missing out on.
In this article, I’ll take a look at the top 5 best VPNs for your computer.
Best VPNs for Computers
After putting all of my top VPNs through their paces, these 5 VPNs have proven to be the cream of the crop for use with your computers.
If you’re short on time, here’s a summary:
- ExpressVPN: This top provider offers excellent VPN protection for Mac, Windows, Chromebook and Raspberry Pi computers. The provider offers comprehensive online security and privacy, and its wide-ranging global server network provides access to content around the globe.
- NordVPN: If you don’t have much change left in your pocket after building that monster gaming PC, NordVPN may be the VPN provider for you. The provider offers excellent protection and enhancement for your desktop or laptop computer, all at a low multi-year price.
- Surfshark: This relatively new VPN provider has started small but has quickly established itself as a VPN to be reckoned with. Surfshark’s smallish but fast-growing server network provides excellent protection, as well as access to blocked content for an unlimited number of Macs, PCs, Linux, Chromebook and Raspberry Pi computers.
- CyberGhost: If you have just purchased your first computer, haven’t ever used a VPN, or just want easy, one-click access to a VPN server, CyberGhost might be the provider for you. The service offers easy-to-use apps for the Windows, macOS, Linux or Raspberry Pi device platforms.
- IPVanish: This provider offers an added level of privacy thanks to its self-owned and -operated server network. The provider delivers above-average online protection for Linux, Windows, macOS, Chromebook and Raspberry Pi users.
I evaluated and ranked the top VPNs for computers using the following criteria:
- Works with Mac, Windows and Linux computers. (Bonus for Raspberry Pi and Chromebook compatibility)
- Provides comprehensive online security
- Keeps no logs of users’ online activities
- Works well to access blocked content
- Provides fast connection speeds with no limitations
- Offers comprehensive customer support
Here is my list of the top 5 VPNs for use with laptop and desktop computers.
ExpressVPN is the top choice for VPN protection for your desktop, mobile phone and laptop computers.
The provider offers native app support for macOS, Windows 10 and Linux, including Raspian, which is the flavor of Linux for Raspberry Pi devices (32 bit only). In addition to these desktop platforms, ExpressVPN also offers native app support for the Android, Android TV, iOS and Amazon Fire device platforms.
You can also use the service on a number of router makes and models, and extensions are available for the Chrome, Firefox and Edge browser platforms. ExpressVPN allows 5 simultaneous connections on a single account.
Military-grade encryption, DNS leak and kill switch protections, split tunneling and more are available from ExpressVPN. The provider offers the industry-standard OpenVPN protocol and is currently running a closed beta test for their new proprietary “Lightway” protocol.
As far as internet privacy goes, ExpressVPN has you covered there too. The provider doesn’t track your usage and doesn’t save any logs about said usage. Plus, they accept Bitcoin, which can be used to protect your payment privacy.
Also, the provider’s “TrustedServer” technology runs all server operations from RAM, with nothing saved to the hard drive. That means when the server is rebooted, everything is erased.
With a global server network boasting 3,000+ servers based in 94+ countries around the globe, ExpressVPN offers proven unblocking power for most geo-blocked content, including streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and many more, as well as gaming servers and financial services.
Those servers offer speedy connections, and depending on your usual ISP-provided connection speeds, can easily handle HD and 4K streaming content, fast-moving online games, and sharing of large files. (I use ExpressVPN for P2P file sharing on a regular basis.) No data caps, data retention or bandwidth throttling with this VPN provider.
ExpressVPN’s support is an around-the-clock proposition thanks to 24/7 live chat, email support, trouble ticket tracking and a searchable support library.
- Native app support for desktop platforms
- Comprehensive global server coverage
- Excellent access to blocked content
- Blazing connection speeds
- Comprehensive digital security and privacy
- Charges a premium price for its premium service
BEST VPN FOR COMPUTERS:ExpressVPN is my #1 choice for computer owners who are looking for optimal protection for their computers. The provider offers app support for the main desktop and laptop computing platforms, and provides excellent connection speeds from its huge global server network. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN provides a definitely attractive VPN option for budget-minded users who are looking for low-cost but efficient VPN protection for their computer.
NordVPN has native app offerings for the Windows, macOS and Linux platforms. If your Chromebook is a recent model running Chrome OS, you can use the provider’s Android app. Raspberry Pi users can manually set up the service on their devices. Also available are Android, Android TV and iOS apps.
Extensions are available for the Chrome and Firefox platforms. The provider also works with multiple makes and models of routers. Up to 6 of your devices can connect to NordVPN servers at once.
All NordVPN connections are protected with government-grade encryption and also offer kill switch and DNS leak protection. Optionally, you can turn on malware, botnet and ad blocking protection. Plus, the provider’s “Double VPN” protection provides double connection routing and encryption.
Privacy isn’t an issue with NordVPN thanks to a strict no-server-logs policy and a Bitcoin private subscription payment option.
A global server network of nearly 5,400 servers in nearly 60 countries around the globe provides top-notch access to your favorite geo-blocked content, including numerous streaming and gaming services. The provider allows P2P access, but only on designated servers.
The provider’s download speeds are easily up to handling your favorite online activities, and there are no data caps or bandwidth-throttling worries.
Customer support includes live support chat, a searchable support library and an email support option.
- Well-protected connections
- Fast download speeds
- Low-priced multi-year subscriptions
- Support for most computer operating systems
- You cannot select a specific server
BEST FOR BUDGET-MINDED USERS:NordVPN is an attractive option for budget-minded users looking for a low-priced way to protect their online activities. The provider offers fast downloads, above-average global server coverage and good internet access to geo-blocked content, all for a low price when you opt for a multi-year subscription. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark is the “youngest” provider on this list, but has quickly earned a reputation as an excellent option for a particular set of computer users.
Surfshark has you covered on the macOS, Windows and Linux platforms. If you have a recent model Chromebook, you can use the Android Surfshark app. You can manually set up the provider’s services on your Raspberry Pi using an OpenVPN client. Apps are also available for Android, Amazon Fire and iOS devices.
Chrome and Firefox extensions are available to protect your browser sessions. Router features are also available. The provider offers an unlimited concurrent connections policy.
Surfshark’s online protections include banking-grade encryption, a kill switch, DNS leak prevention, and ad and tracker blocking. A “MultiHop” server option routes your connection through two VPN servers, providing double encryption and anonymity.
The provider has a no-server-logs policy and accepts cryptocurrency as subscription payment, meaning your privacy is protected.
The provider’s global server network (1,700+ servers in 60+ countries) is somewhat limited, but growing. It does an excellent job of unblocking content wherever it has servers.
Those servers provide fast connections, meaning you’ll enjoy your video streaming and gaming sessions. (Depending on the movie or game you select, of course.) No data caps or bandwidth limitations ever spoil the fun.
Surfshark offers around-the-clock customer support, including always-available live support chat, email support, a “contact us” form and a searchable support library.
- Opens access to blocked media
- Unlimited concurrent connections
- Global server coverage is a bit lacking, but quickly improving
- Single month subscription fee is expensive
PERFECT FOR MULTIPLE COMPUTERS:Computer users who require protection for numerous computers (like me – I have 7 computers in my house) will appreciate this provider’s unlimited concurrent connections allowance. Delivers reliably fast, well-protected connections. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
CyberGhost offers easy-to-use, one-click access to servers around the globe, making an attractive option for first-time VPN users.
The service offers apps for the Windows, macOS and Linux platforms. (Raspberry Pi and Chromebook protection is available via manual setup.) It also offers native support for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices.
Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available, as is compatibility with multiple router makes and models.
7 concurrent connections are allowed on a single set of login credentials.
Military-grade encryption, a kill switch and DNS leak protection protect your connections. Also available is malicious website and ad blocking, and an option is available to force websites to serve up HTTPS versions of their pages.
The provider keeps no server logs and also accepts cryptocurrency in return for its services.
CyberGhost has 6,300+ servers based in nearly 90 countries, which is one of the largest global server networks on this list. That network provides plenty of content-unblocking power around the globe.
CyberGhost also has some of the fastest connections in the industry, providing plenty of bandwidth for online gaming, video streaming, file sharing and more. No data caps or bandwidth limitations to worry about here.
Customer support options include live support chat, a searchable support library and a support ticket submission form.
- Excellent access to most social networks
- Easy-to-use apps
- Comprehensive digital security and privacy protections
- Doesn’t work from inside China
- No native router apps
EXCELLENT OPTION FOR FIRST-TIME USERS:Computer users with little experience with VPN apps or those looking for easy-to-use VPN protection will appreciate CyberGhost. The provider offers one-click access to servers around the globe. A 45-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
IPVanish offers VPN service that measures up well against most of the contenders on this list, then adds another level of privacy protection.
The provider offers native app support for the Chrome OS, macOS and Windows platforms. Manual setup is required for the Linux and Raspberry Pi. Apps are also available for the Amazon Fire, Android and iOS platforms.
No browser extensions are currently available, but router support is. The service allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
Your IPVanish connections are protected using government-grade encryption, a kill switch with auto-reconnect, and a “scramble” feature that keeps your VPN usage undercover by making it appear to be normal browser traffic.
The provider keeps no server logs, so you’re covered there. Unfortunately, there is no private cryptocurrency payment option. The provider does offer an additional layer of privacy thanks to its self-owned and -operated server network, which keeps third-party contractors’ hands off of your personal information.
The provider’s network boasts 1,500+ proprietary servers stationed in over 55 countries. While that’s not as impressive as the other providers in this roundup, it still means you’ll have access to most geo-blocked content around the globe.
While IPVanish’s connection speeds are far from the best on this list, they are more than fast enough to handle HD video streaming, online gaming and file sharing. No bandwidth limitations, data retention or data caps to be found here.
Around-the-clock support includes 24/7 live chat support, a searchable support center and an FAQ section.
- Owns and operates entire server network
- Good connection speeds
- Unlimited concurrent connections
- No browser extensions
- 1-month subscriptions are expensive
PROVIDES AN EXTRA LAYER OF PRIVACY:IPVanish owns and operates its entire global server network, which provides an extra layer of privacy by keeping third-party contractors away from your personal info. The provider also offers well-protected connections for an unlimited number of simultaneous devices. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of IPVanish.
How to Use a VPN With Your Computer
If you’re looking for top-notch online security and privacy for your computer, do the following:
- Subscribe to a VPN provider.
- Download and install the VPN provider’s app(s) onto your computer(s).
- Log into the VPN app.
- Select and connect to a VPN server.
- Enjoy your newly protected and enhanced online activities.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option for My Computer?
While a free VPN will most certainly work with your computer (although Linux, Chromebook and Raspberry Pi users may have a difficult time finding coverage), you’re likely not going to be happy with the performance or privacy.
For starters, free VPNs are inconvenient, and their performance is usually awful.
When first attempting to connect to a free VPN provider, you may be forced to cool your heels in a virtual waiting room until you’re given the okay to connect to a VPN server. Then, once you can connect, you may find that your server selection is either severely limited or that you are automatically connected to a server of the provider’s choosing.
Once you’re connected, you may see your connection speeds severely slow down. This is because VPN providers reserve most of their bandwidth for paying users, so they throttle free users’ speeds.
Plus, most freebie VPNs will impose daily or monthly data caps on your usage. So forget about sharing large files or enjoying binge viewing of your favorite shows.
Free VPNs also totally forget the “private” part of “Virtual Private Network.” Even free VPN providers need to pay the server bills, so many have been known to log their users’ online travels, then sell that information to advertisers and other interested parties. Others are known to insert unwanted tracking cookies and ads into their users’ web browsing sessions.
Does any of this sound like a good experience? I didn’t think so.
Computer VPNs FAQ
Will a VPN Give My Computer a New IP Address?
For all intents and purposes, yes. A VPN routes your computer or other device’s internet connection through one of its VPN servers, assigning it a new public-facing IP address. While your actual IP address doesn’t change, it looks like it has to the rest of the internet.
Does Windows 10 Have a VPN?
Yes, Windows 10 does have a built-in VPN that can be configured to securely connect to another computer.
However, that doesn’t mean you should use it. If you’re looking to transfer files securely to another single computer, it might be sufficient for your needs. However, if you’re looking for VPN protection for all of your online activities, especially if you want to access online content in other regions of the world, you should opt for a VPN provider.
Is Using a VPN On My Computer With Online Banking Safe?
If you bank online without a VPN, hackers could steal information from your account, such as your login and account details. A VPN additionally encrypts your connection, keeping all of your information safe from the prying eyes of the bad actors of the world.
If you’re in search of a reliable way to protect and enhance your online activities on your computer, you should definitely subscribe to a quality VPN provider, like my top choice, ExpressVPN.
I not only recommend ExpressVPN, but it has been my VPN of choice for protecting myself and my family for many years. The provider offers fast, well-protected speeds from servers around the globe. It works with all major desktop and mobile devices, and also provides browser extensions and router support to protect all of your other online activities.
For more information or to subscribe, visit the ExpressVPN website.
- Best VPNs for Computers
- 1. ExpressVPN
- 2. NordVPN
- 3. Surfshark
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. IPVanish
- How to Use a VPN With Your Computer
- Is a Free VPN a Good Option for My Computer?
- Computer VPNs FAQ
- Will a VPN Give My Computer a New IP Address?
- Does Windows 10 Have a VPN?
- Is Using a VPN On My Computer With Online Banking Safe?